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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

Rajahs who came there on pilgrimage as late as the twelfth century.
Huien TSang, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim-traveller, says this
region was called in his time the kingdom of Brahmapura, and that
Buddhism existed here alongside of the older faith,"

We fall to chatting of the two religions, Buddhism and Hinduism,
their striking similarities yet strange contrasts. I tell the Prince that
as an intellectual European I feel a kinship with Buddha which I
cannot feel so easily with Krishna, because the former was a thinking
man who became a god whilst the latter was a born god who
sometimes behaved like a man. Buddha kept himself spotless and
immaculate with women only after he had experienced and lived
through the temptations they offer the normal man, whereas
Krishna made love to many girls, Buddha had not renounced a
world about which he knew absolutely nothing, as so many monks
have done. For him to have achieved such purity in the face of the
opportunities for sensual indulgence which his princehood gave him
was* to make him worthy of the highest respect, but for Krishna to
have succumbed to human feelings was not so admirable. It may
be that childish myths have been built around his story, and the
gaudy lithographs of this flirtatious deity and his adventures with
which the Hindus often decorate their walls may be totally un-
historical. It might be wiser, then, to keep these tales in the back-
ground. However, I tell him, too, that as a man who has won through
to a religious devotion, albeit late in life, I find the teaching of
Krishna superbly elevating: his encouragement to the young
disciple Arjuna to place his entire life fearlessly and unreservedly
in the hands of a Higher Power is likewise encouragement to every
other man. Whereas Buddha becomes too coldly rational, too
dependent on human effort alone, too independent of the high
help which God bestows on the surrendering soul.

It is only in his dialogues with Arjuna that Krishna becomes
superb, more lovable and more adorable even than Buddha, for
there he preaches no harsh leaping asceticism, as did Buddha, but
calls to the human disciple from where he stands.

And then I invite Prince Mussooree indoors and open a long
box to show him a treasured Buddhist work of art, the lately acquired
gift from one who shall be nameless. It is something which shall
henceforth accompany me around the world; a wooden roller two
and a half feet wide wrapped in a faded yellow silk dust-jacket
and tied with two narrow laquer-red silk bands. With slow careful
hands I untie the bands and unroll the casing, thus revealing a large
brilliantly coloured picture painted upon an oblong banner of blue
and yellow silk. Stretched upon the bottom roller and a narrow
wooden lath at the top, this beautiful representation shines out